I have so far kept away from mentioning too much about my work here and I will continue to do so both for professional reasons and because I am conscious of it encroaching on yet another aspect of my personal life but being that I teach in the UK system (the same one that has a 50% teacher retention rate, by the way), it is absolutely inevitable that it will have a dramatic effect on wider life here. This week has been one example as it has been particularly bad (with about 25 out of the last 48 hours spent in school, further hours spent working at home and still a lot to do over the weekend) so I’m afraid that I have struggled to do so much as eat and sleep, yet alone enjoy any adventures worth reporting on here. That being said, it has been a week of flagging up the little nuances of Falklands life that catch you at unexpected moments. I filled up the car for the first time this week, puzzled by the total cost and convinced that I had erred somehow until I remembered that diesel was 46p per litre; cashback!
You also notice that a great deal of life here relies on the inherent trust everyone has in everyone else, the irrelevance of door locks aside. I broke out the chequebook this week for the first time; the cheque stamps and ink pads next to the till in every shop show the normality of it (with no guarantee card, of course, it’s all done on faith). When you call or go to the bank, your name is pretty much your security clearance and away you go with whatever you need (there’s no cash machine here as, I’m told, the Falkland Island Pound notes are too flimsy to handle it so you need to get to the bank more often than you think). Similarly, our shipping arrived this week, some three months after first sending it – all that was needed was to locate the man in the know in a dusty shed, introduce myself and load the boxes up. No paperwork or even checking that I’d paid for it, society here relies on the fact that it is a fundamentally friendly place. It’s going to make moving anywhere after this very unusual. I’ve not touched the boxes yet, as I’m awaiting reinforcements but it’ll be exciting to see what the hell we sent down after all.
Han, of course, arrives in three days (weather-dependent, as last week’s ‘Airbridge’ (the MoD link from Mount Pleasant to RAF Brize Norton, as opposed to the LAN flight which is a 5-flight connection to the UK via Chile) was cancelled due to wind and the weather here is nowhere near predictable enough to see what happens. I suspect Han is secretly hoping to be delayed for a few days on the beautifully sunny Ascension Island but I am hoping that’s not the case. I am ridiculously excited to have her here and overly conscious of the fact that I have been living a bachelor lifestyle, washing up piles and all, for the last 10 weeks. It remains to be seen how she will find it here as experiences vary greatly from person to person; one person I know who came here from a large Chinese city suffers anxiety at the very thought of Goose Green’s isolation, whilst I am slowly but surely falling in love with these Islands. Here’s hoping she likes it, I’m nowhere near ready to leave yet.
It seems I can always find time for a small adventure; I managed to do a small amount of off-roading and take a walk along the Camber (one of the peninsuli that make up Stanley Harbour) for a slightly different view of Stanley as well as to see the long-abandoned industrial oil and coal terminal there. Although the weather was foul, finding your own off-road route with little experience is enough to put you out of your comfort zone and it did offer some surprising sites: